Wednesday, August 10, 2022

How a Favela in Brazil got its clean water back, for $ 42,300

Butterflies and wasps fly through the Enchanted Valley just outside Rio de Janeiro’s Tijuca Forest National Park. There are fruit trees, a nearby waterfall and an impressive view of the Atlantic Ocean. But for decades, something has spoiled the idyll: the stench of raw sewage.

Electricity came to the low-income Enchanted Valley community in the late 20th century – which withdrew its name from a nearby residential project – but the utility never connected it to the city’s sewer network. Waste polluted the local environment and endangered the health of residents.

The community therefore decided to solve the problem on its own by building a bio-digester and artificial wetland to process all sewage generated by its 40 families.

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With full operations in June, it is the first independently built biosystem for an entire Brazilian favela, according to Theresa Williamson, executive director at Catalytic Communities, a non-profit organization that supports the underserved neighborhoods. And it can serve as an example for rural hamlets across Brazil. According to official data, 45% of Brazilians’ sewage is not collected.

The Enchanted Valley project was years in the making. The president of the residents’ association, Otávio Barros, brought a group of tourists to a downhill waterfall in 2007. When they wanted to bathe in the water, he told them they could not; all the community’s sewage flowed through that waterfall. However, the seed of an idea was planted, and he began to gather support.

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“It was harder at the time to make people aware, to show that everyone will benefit,” he told The Associated Press as he walked through the community.

On June 6, 2022, President Otavio Barros of the Residents Association will work on the gas outlet of the sewage treatment biosystem of the Enchanted Valley Sustainable Community on the outskirts of Tijuca National Forest in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

He found allies among researchers at the Papal Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro, where he worked as an administrative assistant. They raised money from the Rio State Foundation to support research to complete a first phase in 2015, and more recently German and Brazilian non-profit organizations Viva con Agua and Instituto Clima e Sociedade to connect each home, with additional funding of Catalytic Communities.

Barros worked with five other residents for months, including about three weeks of breaking through stone doors to create a path for new pipes. They lead to the dome-shaped bio-digester, where sewage is ingested by anaerobic microorganisms. Remaining fluids then continue to hose under the constructed wetland, and are cleaned by fertilizing the plants above.

Homes in the Enchanted Valley Sustainable Community stand on the outskirts of Tijuca National Forest in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, June 6, 2022.

Homes in the Enchanted Valley Sustainable Community stand on the outskirts of Tijuca National Forest in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, June 6, 2022.

The full price of the system was about $ 42,300 (220,000 reais). It’s a quarter of what it would have cost to run pipes through the forest to the existing sewer network at sea level, according to Leonardo Adler, founding partner of Taboa Engenharia, who oversaw the technical side of works.

The federal government has a plan to improve sewage treatment throughout Brazil, which it pursues through private concessions from large urban areas. But that approach does not help small, isolated communities like Enchanted Valley, where the smell of sewage is now gone and the nearby waterfall is clean for bathing.

“I am very happy because it was a very difficult stage to get it right to bring in partners, involve the community to catch the sewage and return it clean to the environment,” Barros said. “It’s part of a dream come true. We have others for the Valley.”

This article is republished from – Voa News – Read the – original article.

Nation World News Desk
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